MY EVALUATION OF TONY DIAZ’S MEXICAN-AMERICAN HERITAGE TOOLKIT

Oct 19, 2017 by

EVALUATION OF TONY DIAZ’S “MEXICAN-AMERICAN HERITAGE TOOLKIT”

BY DONNA GARNER

 

MY CONCLUSION:

Because my time is limited, I only had a chance to evaluate pp. XII – XVIII, pp. 4 – 16, and pp. 119 – 122.  By looking at only these pages with their alarming content and by taking into serious consideration Tony Diaz’s past illegal actions, I believe the Texas State Board of Education must vote against the adoption of  Tony Diaz’s “Mexican-American Heritage Toolkit.”

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LINK TO TONY DIAZ’S BOOK:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pnj994v2b2075ur/Diaz_THE%20MAS%20TOOLKIT_final%20PDF.pdf?dl=0

 

*Page numbers mentioned in my evaluation are those listed on the actual book itself — not the pdf page numbers.

 

At first, I attempted to point out the many grammatical/spelling/punctuation problems in the book; but they are too numerous to mention. Also, the phraseology and word choice are so poor that readers often cannot understand what Diaz is trying to communicate. 

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

 

MY COMMENT:  In Diaz’s bio given at the beginning of his book, he does not explain that he broke the law in Arizona by smuggling books back into the state that had been banned because of their content. In other words, he is a law-breaker.

 

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  1. XIII — MY COMMENT:

 

 

I object to the description of Noah Webster’s life in Diaz’s book. His clear intent is to make Noah Webster look like a “White privilege” author who basically has no understanding of the “common man” (such as Diaz and the narrative writers who are included in his book). Diaz tears down Webster in the eyes of students who will come away from reading this section thinking that the Webster Dictionary (and, hence, any standard dictionary) is inferior, out of date, not worth-while, and is “elitist.” 

 

This strategy by Diaz is meant to play right into the theme that says, “old, privileged White men from decades ago are useless in today’s world.”  Diaz is setting the scene for the stature of his own definitions (and those contained in the stories by the other authors) of Chicano, Latino, Mexican, Hispanic, etc. by making students marginalize standard dictionary definitions.   He fails to mention that the rights to Webster’s Dictionary were bought by George and Charles Merriam in 1843 which has led to the Merriam Dictionary that is constantly updated to keep the definitions current. Diaz’s intent to make students think modern dictionaries are useless because they are out-of-date is totally inaccurate.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT WEBSTER:  https://www.noahwebsterhouse.org/discover/noah-webster-history.htm

 

Diaz fails to mention that Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary contained the greatest number of Biblical definitions given in any reference volume. Webster considered education “useless without the Bible.”

 

 

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  1. XVIII — TEXTBOOK

 

QUOTE:  Listen to the ghost of Webster’s stubborn spirit shout that American

English is real English. Modern American, especially in states such

as Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, and others, need stubborn

spirits to logically and artistically and steadfastly prove that the way

Ward words of one-time refugees and rebels are valid now, too, for the

good of the nation.

 

MY COMMENT: 

What is Diaz trying to say here? The meaning is not clear to adults and would certainly make no sense to students.

 

 

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  1. 4 — TEXTBOOK

 

QUOTE:  One of the fundamental beliefs that form the foundation of the United States is the separation of church and state.

 

MY COMMENT:  I strongly object to this wording.

 

It was Thomas Jefferson on Jan. 1, 1802 when speaking to the Denbury Baptists who assured them that “the First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state.” Those words do not lie in the U. S. Constitution. The Constitution actually states in Amendment 1:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Please notice that the U. S. Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment OF religion.” This does not mean “FROM” religion.  

 

 

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  1. 14 — TEXTBOOK

 

QUOTE:  Instead, we will complicate the telling of stories and the telling of

histories.

 

MY COMMENT:  This sentence makes no sense even in context.  Why “complicate” the telling of stories and histories? 

 

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  1. 15 — TEXTBOOK

 

MY COMMENT: This text basically discredits Octavio Paz as a leading poet and makes students think that just “anybody” can be considered a good writer. This is probably meant by Diaz to make students think that he is on the same level as Paz as a writer. Diaz seems to infer that Paz is an inferior writer because he was a part of mainstream Mexico and the “elite.” 

 

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  1. 15 — TEXTBOOK

 

MY COMMENTS:  The whole discussion of pachuco, Zoot suits, etc. is so poorly worded that students are not going to understand Diaz’ attempts to explain how words can mean different things when translated into different languages. This point is important for students to understand, but this section certainly does not make that clear to students.

 

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  1. 16 — TEXTBOOK

 

QUOTE:  Here are just two lines: (The forward slash represents the line break

in the poem.)

 

tus pechos dos iglesias donde ocia / la sangre sus misterios paralelos,

 

These lines are potent because the exact definition of the words

changes in English and Spanish. There is a different context in Mexico

or the United States.

 

 

MY COMMENTS: The concept of differences between translations is further muddled by the fact that Diaz does not give the two different translations for the example — one translated in Mexico and the other translated in the U. S. To get the point of the example, the students need to see the two different translations for the example written side-by-side. The terminology in this entire section would lead to total confusion on the part of the students.

 

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  1. 16 TEXTBOOK

 

On the other hand, that tunnel vision does lead to the powerful

poem Paz wrote to get behind, or get into the Sun Stone, and to get into

the mind of his people and generation, which he does potently.

 

MY COMMENTS:  The level of poor word phraseology is terrible. “To get behind” — what does this mean?

 

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  1. 119 TEXTBOOK

 

“Mexicans Ain’t White: The Gus Garcia Story” — by Tony Diaz

 

QUOTE:  Spoiler alert: The life of Civil Rights lawyer Gus Garcia doesn’t have

a happy ending, but the true story of our people lies between the

echo of the gavel at the Supreme Court hearing, where he brilliantly

defended our rights, to his last breath alone, penniless, on the streets of

San Antonio.

 

The fact that he is not a household name is no surprise to us.

We register on the American Imagination in three phases.

First, we are invisible.

Then, we are vilified.

Then, we are accepted, but only as a consumer group.

We are never imagined as Intellectuals.

 

MY COMMENT:  The section above that introduces this story by Tony Diaz is nothing more than his attempt to drive the victimization agenda into students’ minds.  The statements are not based upon the facts.  “We are invisible…vilified…accepted only as a consumer group.” Diaz is trying to convince students that Mexican-Americans are victims of a “White” society. Such statements arouse rage among students and make them want to go out and take out that rage on White people. In a school setting, such hate-arousing statements cause chaos and division among the student body. 

 

Diaz ignores the fact that many Mexican-Americans are wealthy, successful, well-educated, and have been elected as Texas Legislators, Texas State Board of Education members, local/state/national leaders, and on and on. 

 

Schools often have Mexican-American student body presidents, winners of popularity contests, prom queens/kings, administrators, teachers, and other leaders of the school. 

 

Diaz’s biased statements are not supported by the facts.  Mexican-Americans certainly are not “invisible, vilified, and only accepted as a consumer group.”

 

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  1. 120 — TEXTBOOK

 

QUOTE:  It was Gus Garcia who set the tone of the proceedings with his now

famous reply, “My people were in Texas a hundred years before Sam

Houston, that wetback from Tennessee.”

 

MY COMMENT:  Starting with the introduction to this tale, Diaz tries to make Gus Garcia look like the hero.  In doing so, Diaz vilifies one of the great Texas heroes, Sam Houston. Such statements would only serve to tear down in students’ minds the many achievements of Sam Houston. 

 

 

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  1. 120 — TEXTBOOK

 

QUOTE:   But maybe we still don’t exist. Fifty-nine years later, there is not one

Mexican American Studies building at any Texas university (mind you,

Garcia’s own home state) that I can walk into and study the oral arguments

he gave to the Supreme Court.  The Justices even granted him

extra time, a rare feat, a further testament to his skill.

 

MY COMMENTS:  Diaz equates the success of “hyphenated-Americans” with the prominence of buildings on Texas universities that promote hyphenated-American courses.  What sort of a measure is that?  Texas universities are full of the many achievements that document the importance of all races, ethnicities, and people groups. 

 

Notice the last sentence in Diaz’s tale (highlighted in red above). Instead of commending the Supreme Court Justices for granting Gus Garcia “extra time” to present his case, Diaz makes the facts fit his narrative of discrimination against Gus and Mexican-Americans by commending Gus’s “skill” as the reason for the extra time.

 

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  1. 120 — TEXTBOOK

 

QUOTE:  I am intrigued by what he could have said. What evidence did he

present, which metaphors did he use, which rhetorical strategies did he

utilize for his legal argument that swayed the United States Supreme

Court to finally recognize us and ensure that we would be granted all the

rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution? Or, maybe, since

we still struggle for our rights, his was a soliloquy, heard only by himself,

beautiful sound and fury signifying nothing.

 

Gus Garcia’s brilliant speech—like his contributions to America,

like our contributions to America—are lost to history. Few records exist

about his life. We do know that Gus Garcia’s life went into a downward

spiral after that landmark case. He suffered from alcoholism and mental

illness. He died homeless on the streets of San Antonio.

 

Garcia’s fall from such great heights is a tragedy worthy of a Shakespearean

play, or, today, a movie script.

 

MY COMMENT:  Notice how Diaz goes on at length to arouse students’ emotions and feelings about Gus Garcia by trying to make him into a bigger-than-life hero. To do so, Diaz has to explain away the fact that Garcia did not come back to San Antonio and continue with his efforts to uplift the lives of the Mexican people. Instead, he became an alcoholic who died an unfortunate death. Diaz’s rhetoric causes students to “blame the establishment” for Garcia’s shortcomings. This bias on Diaz’s part is in line with the purpose for his having produced this book — not to educate students about factual historical events involving Mexican-Americans but instead to arouse animosity and hatred toward Whites.  

 

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PAGE 121 — TEXTBOOK

 

QUOTE: No major law firms would hire a Mexican

American. We are not white. The system considers us white when it suits

its purposes… During the Trayvon Martin case the media’s description of George

Zimmerman as a White Hispanic just barely touches the complexities

of this issue and demonstrates that while the Chican@ intelligentsia is

on quantum physics when it comes to identity, the mainstream media is

still doing basic math.

 

 

MY COMMENTS: Diaz is again trying to convince students of racial discrimination by saying, “No major law firms would hire a Mexican-American. We are not white.”  This, of course, is totally bogus. This link from 2016 destroys Diaz’s biased statement.  Please notice the numerous Hispanic names listed among the law firm partners in Austin, not to mention the fact that the chart itself indicates the ever-growing percentages of diverse staffers:   http://www.hispanicbaraustin.com/assets/news/files/2016%20Austin%20Diversity%20Report%20Card%20-%20FINAL.pdf

 

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  1. 121 — TEXTBOOK

 

QUOTE:  During the Trayvon Martin case the media’s description of George

Zimmerman as a White Hispanic just barely touches the complexities

of this issue and demonstrates that while the Chican@ intelligentsia is

on quantum physics when it comes to identity, the mainstream media is

still doing basic math.

 

Diaz’s comments about the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case are completely inappropriate in this textbook. Trayvon was Black; and as the case developed, NBC edited an audio clip (for which NBC later had to apologize) that  deliberately made it appear to the public as if Zimmerman had shot Trayvon simply because he was Black. To clarify the issue, the term “White Hispanic” was used to distinguish the fact that Zimmerman himself is a minority, having come from a father who is White and a mother who is Hispanic from Peru. The mother also has some African ancestry because her grandfather was Afro-Peruvian.

 

 

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  1. 122 — P. 123 — TEXTBOOK

 

QUOTES: We will make up for lost history starting now. With the help of yet

another Garcia who is blazing her own trail in history, Texas Senator

Sylvia R. Garcia, we are proclaiming July 27, 2013 the first annual Gus

Garcia Day. Senator Garcia is writing the legislative proclamation, and it will be delivered in Senate District 6, her home district, also the base for the Librotraficante Movement. Gus Garcia’s 98th birthday party will have thousands of guests.

 

Senator Garcia stood with us as we formed a Texas-wide coalition to defeat Senate Bill 1128 authored by Texas Senator Dan Patrick and its companion House Bill 1938, authored by Texas Representative Giovanni Capriglione, which would have effectively eliminated Mexican-American Studies.

 

Senator Sylvia Garcia stated, “Now more than ever, it is important to honor our past leaders and remember the struggles for equality, so that we can be ever more vigilant in the attacks against the gains we’ve made.”

 

Enter the Book Runners

We became book trackers when Arizona banned Mexican-American
Studies.

 

We organized the 2012 Librotraficante Caravan to Smuggle the Banned Books Back into Arizona. We have been defying attacks on ethnic studies ever since.

 

Now, our history is under attack in Texas, our own backyard. Governor Rick Perry vetoed $1.5 million for Mexican-American Studies at the University of Texas, Gus Garcia’s alma mater. Texas legislators have proposed Anti-Ethnic Studies Bills. These are among several recent Far Right Republican offenses against our culture. But Gus Garcia provided us not only with the legal tool to defy this oppression, his life story will inspire us to rise. We demand that our history be documented.

 

We will not allow Texas to become the next Arizona. We will defend our history from the classroom to the courtroom.

 

 

MY COMMENTS:  Where do I even begin in trying to confront this prejudiced, inflammatory, and biased section by Tony Diaz?  Diaz is obviously using this textbook to insert his militant, divisive campaign into our Texas schools by arousing hatred and bitterness among our vulnerable students.

 

Diaz’s textbook is not giving a chronological portrayal of Mexican-Americans and their many contributions to our nation. Instead Diaz is using his textbook as a recruiting tool to lure students into his militant, unlawful scheme.

 

Tony Diaz is a law-breaker who deliberately led an effort to break Arizona law HB 2281 by smuggling banned books back into the Arizona schools. 

 

Below is Arizona HB 2281 which Diaz publicly describes as “un-American and racist.”  I believe that most Texans would agree this is a fair, just, and non-discriminatory law and that Texas probably should pass a similar law.   

 

 

ARIZONA HB 2281 – EFFECTIVE AFTER DEC. 31, 2010

 

Relating to school curriculum:

 

15-111. Declaration of policy 5

 

THE LEGISLATURE FINDS AND DECLARES THAT PUBLIC SCHOOL PUPILS SHOULD BE TAUGHT TO TREAT AND VALUE EACH OTHER AS INDIVIDUALS AND NOT BE TAUGHT TO  RESENT OR HATE OTHER RACES OR CLASSES OF PEOPLE.

 

8 15-112. Prohibited courses and classes.

 

A SCHOOL DISTRICT OR CHARTER SCHOOL IN THIS STATE SHALL NOT INCLUDE IN ITS PROGRAM OF INSTRUCTION ANY COURSES OR CLASSES THAT INCLUDE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

 

PROMOTE THE OVERTHROW OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT.

 

PROMOTE RESENTMENT TOWARD A RACE OR CLASS OF PEOPLE.

 

ARE DESIGNED PRIMARILY FOR PUPILS OF A PARTICULAR ETHNIC GROUP.

 

ADVOCATE ETHNIC SOLIDARITY INSTEAD OF THE TREATMENT OF PUPILS AS INDIVIDUALS.

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